Rang De Basanti.


It was in August last year that I was told to see Rang De Basanti, because we were talking about Indian youth and their involvement with India’s body politic which was growing rapidly with the onset of Anna Hazare and the Aam Aadmi Party. At that point we were also discussing young people entering the Indian Armed Forces and I was intrigued that this film had escaped my attention when it was released in 2006. I may not have been able to go because of my preoccupation with my care giving duties then, but I thought that I had missed a good opportunity and so ordered for a DVD of the film about which I wrote a blog post.

The DVD arrived finally last week but I was unable to watch it till last night due to preoccupation with many other things. Last night was relatively free with the son and dil going out for dinner and I watched it without any interruption.

It is a magnificent film on a topic dear to me as I have knowledge of one family whose son was lost to a MIG aircraft crash. The callousness of the ministry of defense in first resisting the opposition to its stone walling about the worthiness of the aircraft and subsequent release of the film were all too real for me.

The young people portrayed, the flash back to the theme of Bhagat Singh and the freedom struggle and return to the modern scenes were handled very sensitively and the exuberance of the youth was simply brilliantly captured. The hero Aamir Khan’s performance was not as good as the other younger actors and that too came as a surprise to me. But the star system is what it is here and if I were to be asked to name the other actors, I would not be able to. Thankfully there were not too many tiresome song and dance routines to distract from the main theme and I sat through completely engrossed in the story and its depiction on the screen.

If it ever comes to our theaters, I would like to see it again for the big screen experience. It is that good. I would however rate it only with a five out of a possible six stars for its inability to handle some of the tense scenes with more sensitivity.


Send In The Clowns?

This interview in the Times with Beppe Grillo took me back to my visit to Italy in the late 1980s and the late 1990s when I was struck by the many similarities between Italy and India. Notably the ordinary people’s reaction to existential problems.

A lot of water has flown down the rivers of both countries since then, but another remarkable similarity has been thrown up by events that overtook both the countries in the late first decade of the new century.


These two gentlemen Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal were also called clowns by the establishment, but the movement that they started has gathered quite a bit of movement and people power like what has motivated the government to take notice of the atrocities against women are just the beginning of what may well turn out to be the harbinger for change in the coming elections to our parliament in 2014. Just like Beppe Grillo’s party has now become a king maker, the Aam Aadmi Party of Arvind Kejriwal may well turn out to be the king maker in a what I predict to be a very hung parliament.

What is striking however, is the very similar situations prevailing in both Italy and India and the situations are generating similar responses and throwing up unlikely saviours.

Lest this post gets carried away into a major political discussion, just to lighten up or to change the mood, depending on how you look at it, here is one of my old favourite songs on clowns. How apt in a different context!

Corruption’s New Twist.

Ms. Kiran Bedi is in the forefront of the current anti corruption agitation led by Anna Hazare in India.

Much was expected from Ms. Bedi but, alas, she has let her admiring fans down.

She has submitted false claims for expenses incurred and has been caught red handed with an expose in the Indian Express.

She has clarified that the savings effected were for funding her Non Government Organisations involved in social work, but this does not wash with a lot of us, particularly me.

When I was a salesman, my employers wanted all salesmen to travel by train in the First Class Coaches to enable us to travel in comfort and to be rested well enough to handle tough sales calls at the next stop. Some salesmen would travel by the lower classes and claim the first class fare, but if they were found doing that, they were simply sacked.

Using the same logic, Ms Bedi was surely expected to travel in comfort to carry out her, no doubt, arduous duties at the end of each journey. Irrespective of what she did with the money that she saved, surely, the same logic should apply and she should accept her culpability?

No Ms. Bedi, don’t plead “Not Guilty” for this transgression. You cheated. Accept it with grace and apologise. If possible, return the excess amounts claimed from the various trusting organisations to them and apologise to them too. It might also be a good idea to quietly fade away from the limelight that you have occupied in the current agitation. Your credibility is now all shot to pieces.

India Against Corruption.

As I write this, the Indian Parliament is debating introducing a bill to enact a law for a Lokpal, a super ombudsman position to tackle the major problem of corruption in public life in our country.

We now see emails, FaceBook messages, Twitter messages, phone calls, SMS texts doing the rounds mobilising the country’s people to join a protest led by Anna Hazare who is on hunger fast in Delhi.

I shall write more about the developments in due course on this turning point in India’s history, but want to share something that is very interesting.

I sent this message to my friend in Singapore T, who is an economist and teacher, and a third generation Singaporean of Indian descent.


One of the many mails currently doing the rounds in the Indian net space is this one:

IN 1982, In Singapore, LOKPAL BILL was implemented and 142 Corrupt Ministers & Officers were arrested in one single day.. Today Singapore has only 1% poor people & no taxes are paid by the people to the government, 92% Literacy Rate, Better Medical Facilities, Cheaper Prices, 90% Money is white & Only 1% Unemployment exists..

I am reasonably sure that this must be some joker’s idea of a spanner in the works, but just thought that I should seek your expert opinion!



I received this in response:


I think the arresting got well under way much before that (in fact we put all the communists and radical trade unionists away in one sweep under operation “cold storage”, sometime in 1967 or thereabouts); corruption was rooted out in the very early years of independence (partly because there was little avenue for corruption since we did not have bureaucrats operating a license raj, and partly because of zero tolerance, with the anti corruption agency directly reporting to the PM’s office), our literacy rate is higher than 91%, our unemployment rate is practically zero; as a financial centre, there must be dirty or black money from the many tycoons from Indonesia, China and the region which is parked in Singapore banks — but that money does not become a factor in local corruption, it just allows the tycoons to buy palatial homes for which they will pay taxes; we citizens do pay taxes but at relatively low rates.

You may know that many Indian citizens now live here, easily some several hundred thousands, tons of new Indian restaurants, etc. Of course, K hates Singapore for its perceived authoritarianism, though that never stopped affluent highly educated Indian citizens from applying for permanent residence and citizenship.


K is a mutual friend and is a bit of a maverick. K, T and I have a three way exchange of ideas and try and solve all the problems of the world, particularly that of India. K is about to retire from service and is increasingly looking to spiritualism to see him through the rest of his life! My readers of course know that I am a retired hippy.

The point of this post is to share the success story of Singapore with my readers. I have been to Singapore a number of times and have always felt that it is a wonderful to place to live in. Frankly, T, his lovely wife Anne and a few other friends of mine who have made Singapore their home lead very enviable lives.


Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Nema, Noor,Ordinary Joe, Paul,Maria the Silver Fox, Padmum , Rohit, Will knott, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get seventeen different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Padmum.

an·i·mos·i·ty (n-ms-t)
n. pl. an·i·mos·i·ties
1. Bitter hostility or open enmity; active hatred.
2. A hostile feeling or act.

That definition explains the current state of mind of most Indians towards the political and bureaucratic class.

Sir Winston Churchill wrote 64 years ago about India :
“Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw. They will have sweet tongues & silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power & India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air & water would be taxed in India.”

To paraphrase another Englishman Sir David Hunt, erstwhile British High Commissioner to Nigeria, “Politicians and bureaucrats as a whole are, not only not averse to cutting off their nose to spite their face; they regard such an operation as a triumph of cosmetic surgery,”

For five decades after independence, this class in collusion often with the criminal class brought the country to its knees with socialism, statism and sheer arrogance of power. Those days were called the License/Permit Raj, or the Inspector Raj and the net result was that India was going down the tube. From the nineties many of such restrictive controls were removed, but the versatile gang of thieves have found ingenious ways of looting the country and its people.

India is in the midst of a major anti corruption movement and my readers will get some idea of what is happening in this article.

For the first time in decades, all members of the establishment are facing animosity instead of fear from the public. The animosity is finding expression and here is a report that augurs well for public finally getting its act together to force change from a feral leadership. Here is another report closer to my home.

Modern communication methods and a vigilant media is enabling the ordinary Indian to express his animosity and when the situtation calls for it, a leader emerges. Anna Hazare is one such leader and the movement inspired by him can only go further to make our country what it can be. Have a look at this report too. The media and concerned citizens have already started to respond to inanity.

One question that one of my loyal readers, Ursula, will ask of me is where I stand on the emotion of animosity. Let me anticipate her and assure her that I can be allergic to people and things, but I have no personal experience so far of “Bitter hostility or open enmity; active hatred; hostile feelings or acts.” either from me towards others or from others towards me. I avoid situations that can lead to animosity and perhaps others do the same to me too.


Hope By Zordo

The hottest news in India today is the popular disdain being expressed for the political and the bureaucratic class of India.

To show the ridiculous levels to which corruption has seeped into our system, here is a story which takes the art of bribery to a new level! ‘MLA’ in the story stands for Member of Legislative Assembly, the state level equivalent to a Member of the Parliament. You will learn something about Anna Hazare as you proceed further in reading this post.

Various small steps taken in the past by many activists have now cumulatively morphed into a popular movement led by a crusader Anna Hazare. More information about his crusade here. Subsequently, the government agreed to constitute a joint mechanism with what it called the Civil Society, thus agreeing that it represented the uncivil aspects of our body politic, to draft a Lokpal bill. This would eventually result in an Ombudsman kind of constitutional mechanism.

The Lokpal bill which is expected to be enacted before Anna goes on his fast again on our Independence Day, August 15, 2011. It is expected that it will be a forerunner to bring about many other changes to the laws at state levels and also to bring up badly needed administrative reforms at all levels.

It is too much to expect an overnight miracle, but a start has been made and the establishment has been made aware that the public will not take this lying down anymore.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”
~ Robert Francis Kennedy

I join many other Indians in hoping for quick and lasting change.